E. H. McCormick

1906–1995. ‘I never wanted to be an engine-driver or an explorer or an All Black. . . . even in my school-days, I longed to be a writer and in the barren years that followed I went on cherishing that absurd ambition.’

Eric McCormick was, from about 1940 until his death in 1995, one of New Zealand’s most distinguished writers and scholars. Born in Taihape, he attended school and university in Wellington and later travelled to England to study at Cambridge University. When he returned from war service in Egypt, he became the Chief War Archivist and, subsequently, a university lecturer, curator and editor. He received honorary DLitt degrees from both Victoria University of Wellington and The University of Auckland. Known for a dry wit, a trademark elegant style and shrewd observation, McCormick wrote several important biographies. His Letters and Art in New Zealand was a landmark work, and he pioneered the appreciation and the study of painter Francis Hodgkins.